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Maple Leafs defeat Devils in shootout

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO - Phil Kessel made a Hall of Fame move in the Hall of Fame Game.

Kessel scored a spectacular third-period goal and James van Riemsdyk had the only goal in the shootout to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

The game was scoreless through 48 minutes before Kessel's highlight-reel goal. He took a pass from defenseman Cody Franson inside his own zone, raced through center ice and into the New Jersey zone before splitting the defense and putting the puck past Cory Schneider at 8:12 for his 10th goal of the season.

"Those are difference-maker goals," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after his team improved to 11-5-0. "It reminded me of Frank Mahovlich. The wind-up and come back inside your own line and attack. That's old-time hockey. I mean real old-time hockey."

Being compared to Mahovlich, a Hockey Hall of Fame member since 1981, in the annual Hall of Fame Game made the comparison all the more appropriate.

"We needed that goal," Kessel said. "We had our chances. We had some power plays. I thought if we got a bounce here or there, we could get a couple goals."

New Jersey tied the game with 4:45 left in regulation on a power-play goal that was nowhere near as spectacular as Kessel's. Michael Ryder shot from the right wing and Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier couldn't get his stick down to stop it. Instead, the puck rode up the stick, over his shoulder and into the net.

"I'm probably going to do that play a hundred times and, I don't know, if you ask me to do it again I probably wouldn't be able to," Bernier said. "We showed character. We came back and won that game. It was a great team effort."

Ryder's fifth goal of the season sent the game to overtime. In the extra period, Ryder nearly ended the game after weaving through the Maple Leafs defense and breaking in 1-on-1 against Bernier, who smothered his backhand attempt.

Van Riemsdyk scored in the third round of the shootout and Bernier stopped all three New Jersey shooters.

"You knew the type of game it would be with New Jersey," Carlyle said. "That's a typical New Jersey Devil type of hockey game. Tight, they rely on their goaltender and their penalty killing and their defensive side of it and they attack when you get careless and want to play the cute game."

The Maple Leafs had an opportunity to win the game in overtime, but Schneider came up big making a cross-crease pad save on Kessel on a 3-on-1 break.

"[Schneider] was excellent tonight," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I feel for him because the guys really want to work hard for him. He deserves to have more wins than what he's sitting at."

Van Riemsdyk was playing his first game at center for the Maple Leafs on their top line with Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

"I thought [van Riemsdyk] did fine," Carlyle said. "I think the issue for him is going to be more about keeping his feet moving in the defensive zone. … I thought a few times, and he even spoke to it, that he was watching versus reacting and that's natural."

Bernier stopped 34 shots in 65 minutes before going 3-for-3 in the shootout. Schneider stopped 27 shots and two out of three in the tiebreaker, but it wasn't enough.

"It's never easy to lose," Schneider said. "I'm not used to losing; don't really like it very much. You get into a shootout and it's sort of an arbitrary way to decide a game after how hard everyone's worked for 65 minutes but that's how it is. For a back-to-back when they hadn't played in five or six days I thought we looked pretty good and had our share of chances but Bernier was real solid there, made some good saves."

David Clarkson, who spent his entire NHL career with New Jersey before signing with Toronto as a free agent last summer, had no points and two shots in 20:11 of ice time in his first game against his former team.

The Devils finished their back-to-back games on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers and Maple Leafs with three points out of a possible four and head home to face the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

"We did everything we wanted to do in here on a back-to-back in a tough building against a rested team except find a way to put an extra puck behind [Bernier]," DeBoer said.

The Maple Leafs go on the road for a Saturday night game against the Boston Bruins. It's their first visit to TD Garden since Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, a game in which the Maple Leafs led 4-2 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, only to lose 5-4 in overtime.

"Obviously when you play a team in the playoffs there's a little bit more of a rivalry built and we've obviously had a rivalry with them for a while," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Last year is last year and these are two big points for both teams."

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